During Questions on Monday evening, the following exchanges occurred.
The Revd Canon Andrew Godsall (Exeter) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q18 Could the House be invited to reflect on the recent Primates’ Meeting and, if so, what undertaking might be given for particular reflection on whether it was appropriate to adopt an approach involving ‘relational consequences’ in relation to a member province of the Anglican Communion in the light of the fact that a majority of the dioceses in the Church of England declined to approve the Anglican Communion Covenant?
The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:
A The House received a report on the Primates meeting along with members of the College when they met in January. The Primates addressed the impact on relationships within the Anglican Communion when any Province makes a unilateral change in doctrine. They have set out specific consequences in the functioning of the Communion and a task group will be appointed to carry forward the implications of their decision.
Supplementary Questions (transcribed from the audio recording)
Is there a difference between the specific consequences referred to in the answer and the relational consequences envisaged in section 4.2.7 of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant that the dioceses of the Church of England rejected. And if there is, what is it?
Archbishop of Canterbury:
Thank you, that’s a very interesting question. The Covenant was not considered at all during the Primates Meeting. I don’t… I think it may have been mentioned once in passing. And therefore the way in which the consequences were looked at was not related to the Covenant in any way at all. I think to the best of my knowledge no more than 16, it may have only been 11, provinces have actually signed up to the Covenant. Therefore the vast majority would not consider it relevant in considering this. So there was no link.
Dr Rachel Jepson:
Would the House of Bishops also then take the opportunity to discuss plans to impose similar relational consequences for those provinces that support the criminalisation of homosexuality and in so doing are in breach of the Lambeth resolution.
Archbishop of Canterbury:
Thank you very much. I hope it’s clear that the House of Bishops was not involved in the Primates Meeting. It was the Primates Meeting, and the House of Bishops has not imposed any relational consequences in any way at all. As I hope I made clear earlier, such consequences are those at Communion level, and cannot bind any particular province. Having said that, I think the point you raise is a very, very important one. And if you look at the communiqué, which you will find on the primates meeting website, you will find that there is a very, very clear statement of the longstanding opposition of the Anglican Communion to the criminalisation of LGBTI people. And given that that is a very important part of the thinking of the Anglican Communion in this area, one could anticipate that the primates when they meet, were someone to be advocating such, would need to consider that. If they were to continue to advocate it since the primates meeting we just had. But I am one vote out of 38 and I couldn’t possibly predict or anticipate what the outcome would be. But thank you.